Valley of the Gods – Visiting Utah’s Backcountry • PhotoTraces

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Valley of the Gods was an unplanned and, roughly, unintentional discovery that occurred a number of years in the past throughout one in every of my earlier journeys to the southwest. I used to be conscious of the world and even flagged it on the map, however I used to be completely sure that I’d not have time to swing by the valley. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry

That 12 months I had two huge objectives to perform in jap Arizona: to swing by the elusive Canyon de Chelly and to go to the Monument Valley in Utah for the primary time.

Once I arrived on the Canyon de Chelly early within the morning, my plan was to dedicate a whole day to photographing the lesser-known Nationwide Monument. After sundown, the plan was to drive to the motel in Bluff to organize for the subsequent day’s journey to Monument Valley. 

After climbing half the day in Canyon de Chelly and having fun with the proper summer time climate, the Canyon was hit by a sudden and really sturdy storm within the early night. The wind was so highly effective that I used to be afraid of flipping my rental SUV. I had no selection however to go away the world early and begin driving towards Bluff. 

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As I approached Bluff, I noticed that the change in plans left me with none concepts for a sundown location. I wanted to decide quick. It simply so occurred that the Valley of the Gods was the closest flagged location on my customized Google Map. So, with out anticipating a lot, I drove to the valley. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 1
Rudolph and Santa Claus rock formation

A lot to my shock, the Valley of the Gods grew to become essentially the most attention-grabbing discovery of my complete journey. 

What’s the Valley of the Gods?

The Valley of the Gods is a backcountry scenic space in southeast Utah. It’s situated south of the Bears Ears Nationwide Monument and east of Monument Valley. 

Valley of the Gods
Valley of the Gods

It’s well-known for its scenic rock formations, that are much like Monument Valley and are unfold round a comparatively small space of public land. It’s managed by the Bureau of Land Administration and, consequently, presents some benefits in comparison with different locations situated on Indian reservations. 

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For instance, each Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are situated on the Navajo Nation land and visiting each parks comes with many tribal restrictions. Probably the most vital restriction for adventurous vacationers is that you simply can not discover the world by yourself; you have to be accompanied by a Navajo information. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 2
Japanese a part of the Valley of the Gods

The Valley of the Gods doesn’t have such restrictions. Entrance into the valley is free. You do not want a allow to go to the Valley and you’ll discover the world by yourself, any means you need.

Since solely a tiny portion of vacationers who come to Monument Valley is conscious of the Valley of the Gods, it presents a way of remoteness and solitude. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 3
Tornado gravel street of the Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods (Utah) Filth Street

The one technique to discover the Valley of the Gods is to take the dust street that connects Freeway 163 and Freeway 261. It’s a 17-mile clay and graded gravel street that’s comparatively flat and broad. It doesn’t require a excessive clearance or 4×4 automobile. You possibly can drive it with any rental automobile.

Valley of the Gods Dirt Road
2×4 Rental SUV

However, like most clay roads in Utah, it turns into impassable when it’s moist. It’s prudent to cease at any Bureau of Land Administration workplace to inquire about street circumstances and the climate forecast. 

You possibly can enter the Valley of the Gods from both Freeway 163 or Freeway 261 and drive it clockwise or counterclockwise. I’ve pushed each instructions and don’t see any benefits to at least one over the opposite. 

Valley of the Gods Dirt Road (gravel and clay)
Valley of the Gods Filth Street (gravel and clay)

Valley of the Gods Tenting

You might be allowed to camp within the Valley of the Gods; you don’t want a allow. Tenting is just permitted in beforehand impacted areas. Don’t forget that it’s dispersed tenting with out water or services, which suggests you have to be ready and absolutely self-sufficient. 

Canines are allowed however campfires are usually not. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 4

Valley of the Gods Mountaineering

Mountaineering is permitted wherever within the Valley of the Gods. The problem with this freedom is that the valley doesn’t have any established trails. You have to create your personal itinerary. 

In my case, it was a sequence of brief walks from the facet of the street towards attention-grabbing mesas and buttes. Generally, I walked across the formations looking for one of the best perspective for my photographs. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 5
You might be free to stroll as much as the Woman within the Bathtub rock formation

Valley of the Gods Map

Once I drove alongside the Valley of the Gods dust street for the primary time, I had no concept what to anticipate so I merely tried to take pleasure in the brand new expertise. Solely later did I uncover that just about each mesa, butte, and cliff within the Valley of the Gods has its personal title, akin to Setting Hen Butte, Rooster Butte, Seven Sailors Butte, De Gaulle and His Troops, and Woman within the Bathtub. 

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I returned to the valley as soon as extra to make sure I captured essentially the most attention-grabbing landmarks. Later, I mapped them into Google Maps, which I’ve shared right here that can assist you plan your journey to the valley. 

Here’s a map with essentially the most attention-grabbing rock formations within the Valley of the Gods. 

If you happen to plan to make the Valley of the Gods a part of your subsequent journey itinerary, you also needs to make time to go to two different attention-grabbing spots close by. 

Moki Dugway

Moki Dugway is situated a mile from the western entrance to the Valley of the Gods. It’s three miles of 11% gravel switchbacks that climb the Cedar Mesa. It was initially a part of an ore mining operation however now serves as a public mountain crossing. 

Moki Dugway (Utah)
Moki Dugway

From the highest of the Moki Dugway, you’ll take pleasure in a wide ranging view of the Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley within the distance.

You possibly can spot all of the named mesas and buttes within the valley and see the winding dust street you simply traversed. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 6
View on the Valley of the Gods from Moki Dugway

Goosenecks State Park

Goosenecks State Park is situated 9 miles from the western entrance to the Valley of the Gods. It’s most likely the smallest state park I ever visited. 

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The primary attraction of the park is the overlook on two large bends of the San Juan River. The dimensions of the view is wonderful and unprecedented. 

Goosenecks State Park
Goosenecks State Park

The go to to Goosenecks State Park will take an hour, at most, however it’s a must-see vacation spot.

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